May 24 2013 Latest news:
Nathaniel John, West Ham Correspondent
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Hammers boss says first nine games are crucial
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is determined to see his team get off to a flying start when they kick-off their Premier League season at home to Aston Villa on August 18.
The Hammers face Paul Lambert’s men in a reverse of the first game of the 2009/10 Premier League season, when Avram Grant’s side were beaten 3-0 at Villa Park, before going on to lose their first four league games.
However, Allardyce is keen to avoid a repeat of that run as he targets a strong start from his troops, with games at Swansea, Norwich and QPR interspersed with home clashes against Fulham, Sunderland, Arsenal and Southampton.
“The first nine games up to Manchester City are ones we must try to achieve as many points as we can,” he said.
“It will be hugely difficult, but not as difficult as what follows.”
After a relatively gentle start to the season, the Hammers then have a tough run up to Christmas, when they welcome Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool to the Boleyn Ground as well as making trips to Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Arsenal.
“We get through October and then November and December are the toughest months of the season, not only because of the fixtures, but the number of games we have to play,” added Allardyce.
“We’ve got to get off to a flying start and achieve as many points as we can in the first nine or 10 games.
“The fixtures are difficult though; nothing is going to be easy at all.”
Although West Ham may not win as many games as they did in the Championship, or come close to breaking their record for 14 away victories in a season, Allardyce feels it is a price worth paying for playing in England’s top flight.
“I’d had the experience of the Championship, but it’s not like the Premier League and the pressures that it brings are huge,” he said.
“The expectation is fantastic and everyone concerned has a much higher status in this industry.
“If you’re part of it you should feel pride and you should be ready to work that little bit harder for the end goal and the end goal is to finish as high up in the Premier League as we possibly can.”
The Hammers return for pre-season training this Sunday, just six weeks after their memorable 2-1 play-off final victory against Blackpool at Wembley, and Allardyce is already working hard to make sure that his players and squad are prepared for life in the Premier League.
“Everyone will have a long-lasting memory of their experience at Wembley,” he added.
“It will last many years and the ultimate goal was achieved with great professionalism and great style in the end.
“Now we’ve reflected on that, now we’ve relaxed and enjoyed ourselves it’s time to start focusing on the most important league in the world and build and sustain a team that is capable of staying in that division.”